Ed Wood (1994)

edwood_DVDDepp and director Tim Burton teamed up again in 1994 to bring to life the story of Ed Wood a 1950s writer, director, and producer of cheap Hollywood films that relied heavily on recycled stock footage. Wood is best known for Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) which has been dubbed by many as the worst film of all time. Wood gained a cult following after Plan 9 and some of his other movies began making the rounds on late night TV in the early 1960s and were later again lampooned by shows like Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in the 1990s.

Burton’s film Ed Wood follows the director on his journey as he tries to get his pictures made, hustling to finance and shoot his movies on the cheap and make a name for himself. Early on in the story Wood encounters Bela Lugosi, famous for his portrayal of Count Dracula nearly 25 years earlier, trying on a coffin for size in the window of a funeral parlour. Striking up a conversation with the legend, Wood ends up befriending Lugosi, convinced the actor’s comeback is just around the corner and that his name and image lend some credibility to Wood’s planned productions.

Well, that's just swell! - Johnny Depp as director Ed Wood

Well, that’s just swell! – Johnny Depp as director Ed Wood

Depp plays Wood with such blind optimism and over the top enthusiasm that it’s little surprise to learn that Depp drew on the personalities of Ronald Reagan, The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, and Casey Kasem for inspiration. Whether he’s pitching ideas for his films or touting Lugosi’s comeback there is no doubt that Wood believes in what he’s selling. It’s only when things fail to go his way do we begin to see the cracks in his optimism. Depp plays these moments of frustration to great effect, alternating between manic meltdowns, to quiet desperation.

Johnny Depp and Martin Landau as Wood and Lugosi.

Johnny Depp and Martin Landau as Wood and Lugosi.

Depp’s outstanding acting is overshadowed by Martin Landau’s Oscar winning performance as a frail, vulnerable Bela Lugosi. Award winning makeup/sfx artist Rick Baker, a huge fan of Lugosi and classic horror movies, helps make Landau’s transformation all that more convincing. Although Depp’s performance was overlooked, Landau didn’t hesitate to sing his praises when accepting his Golden Globe for his performance as Lugosi.

“This is for us, Johnny. No matter what happens tonight, this is for us because, I mean, you know, if you play tennis by yourself it doesn’t work. That guy is the best young actor in this town. Not only that, he comes in prepared, he’s ready to work, and he’s willing to take chances, and I love him.”
–Martin Landau
1995 Golden Globe acceptance speech

The relationship between Lugosi and Wood form the emotional core of the movie and is a times touching and tragic. For me as much as I love the film, I find the film feels sluggish in parts as it tries to reenact both men’s intertwined stories with enough detail to draw the audience in. As painful as it is too watch Wood struggle at times, I couldn’t help but wonder what an entrepreneurial film maker like Wood might have done if he had access to the crowd-funding options and tools of today.

I still rank Ed Wood high on my list of favourite Depp films more for his performance than the overall execution of the film.

Reflection on the A to Z Challenge

survivor_[2013]Wow, that was one intense month of blogging.

I am really glad I signed up for the experience. I was looking for an excuse to kick start my blog and open up and this proved to be a good experience. I enjoyed checking out other people’s blogs during the challenge and getting a flavour for what else is out there. There were some blogs that I will definitely start following on a more regular basis.

Its unfortunate that due to cross-platform incompatibilities between Blogger and WordPress that it made it harder to follow or like blogs that I visited and I think it may have hurt traffic to my blog too. That being said I didn’t sign up to the challenge necessarily looking for an audience. I signed up for the opportunity to write whatever I felt like on 26 topics and force myself to sit down and write almost every day.

My problem is I like to write essay length posts, which can be time consuming and may not necessarily the length most people like to read. Personally, when it’s a topic that interests me I like a detailed in depth post. Maybe I am an exception.

I hope I have the time and energy to sign up again next year, although I think I make do a theme next year and concentrate on something related to writing or Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Thanks again to the organizers and everyone who participated. Thanks to Scribofelidae at What I Write for turning me onto the A-to-Z challenge. Thanks to my sister Dee who was crazy enough to join me in doing this on her blog – Cheaper by Eleven who’s humour always makes me laugh. Definitely check out her posts about her family adventures.

Next up at SooGuy.com I get back to my Johnny Depp Tribute reviewing all of his films in honour of his 30 years in movies and his 50th birthday, with Ed Wood being the next in the list.